The Tuesday Q&A: Applicants From Smaller Countries

by on August 28th, 2012

Question:

I’ve attended a couple of the webinars and I hear you guys talk a lot about the challenges for applicants from China and India. What about those of us coming from smaller countries? Countries like Uruguay, where I was born?

Answer:

Great question, buddy. You’re right, there are many countries out there. We talk about China and India a lot because they’re huge countries and have literally THOUSANDS of students applying to U.S. bschools every year. But that doesn’t mean that your chances are any lower than theirs. In fact, if you are not from India and China, you will be in GREAT shape this year.

Why, you may ask? Well…because most countries other than China and India are UNDER-represented in the applicant pool. Let’s say 1,000 people apply to HBS from other countries (total hypothetical here). Maybe 500 of those apps come from China and India, but maybe only 2 come from Trinidad. Makes those two really stand out from the crowd right off the bat. So, being from a smaller, lesser known country is AWESOME for you, and can be a big asset when treated cleverly in the apps.

Schools are looking for people who will make a unique contribution to the school’s rep. So coming from a less-often represented country gives you a one-up in this field. For example, what MBA program wouldn’t want someone who would return to Mauritius and take on a major role in government there? Or an applicant that’s looking to revolutionize the banking industry in Ghana?

Other countries are aplenty, but are relatively under-represented in MBA apps. If you’re already a strong candidate, hailing from an exotic or little-known nation could just put you over the top. Approach it smartly and make the most of this advantage!

Good luck out there,

– Jon Frank

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